Is Manohla Dargis Lightening Up?

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Excerpt from I’ll Replace You (2008) Photo: Courtesy of Warner Bros.

It certainly seems like it! Just two days after being out-grinched by Times chucklehead A.O. Scott in his blistering review of Will Smith's Seven Pounds, Manohla "Movie Killer" Dargis shares the list of her 10 favorite 2008 movies "in the admittedly alien spirit of" — gasp! — "optimism." While acknowledging the trying economic climate, along with the closure of specialty divisions like Warner Independent Pictures and the gutting of New Line (also, she makes a joke about chewing broken glass), she concludes that conditions under which filmmakers were able to produce movies like Synecdoche, New York; Paranoid Park; Wendy and Lucy; and The Dark Knight can't be all bad ("At the risk of sounding stoned on hope, I offer the following heresy: The movies are fine. Sometimes they’re great; occasionally they’re magnificent"). "I’m not sure if optimism becomes me," she writes near the end, "but it sure feels nice." It sure does, Manohla — happy holidays, and may next year's Oscar-grabbing Holocaust movies have better luck than The Reader and The Boy in the Striped Pajamas!

In the Big Picture, Big-Screen Hopes [NYT]